Thosai 10 Ways: This Lacy Rava Thosai Is The Perfect Quick And Crisp Snack
"Thosai 10 Ways" is a Wonderwall.sg series helmed by MasterChef Singapore Season 2 contestant Vasunthara Ramasamy aka Vasun, an amateur baker and cook, and the blogger behind Monsoon Table.
One of the quickest and crispiest of thosais to make is the Rava Thosai. It is instantly recognisable to many because of its thin, lacy, crackly appearance with flecks of green chillies, onions and spices. It is a firm favourite of many who visit tiffin joints because each bite promises crunchy and savoury goodness that no other thosai can compete with.
Some like it stuffed with potato masala, but I like mine with a ridiculous amount of onions and green chillies. Unlike the traditional plain thosai, rava thosai does not require any fermentation and so it is a great option for a quick weekday meal or snack.
The batter for rava thosai is completely different from a traditional thosai as it is meant to be very watery and thin. What creates the lacy effect is the amount of water added to the batter, the oil on the pan, the high heat of the pan and the height from which the batter is poured from.
The oil creates the separation of the watery batter and forms holes, just like it would in a lacy tuile made on a pan. The height the batter is poured from allows the batter to fall in a trickle and so it does not create a uniformed surface.
As the batter is watery, the thosai takes a longer time to cook than other thosais. I’ve also found that a cast iron pan creates a more distinct lacy effect and the thosai is crispier. Use only a flat pan to make this thosai, and be prepared for a thosai-speckled, “Jackson Pollock” effect on your stove. All good things come at a price.
Instant Multigrain Thosai
Makes 10-12 thosais with a diameter of 10-12 inches
- 100g / ½ cup fine semolina/rava
- 50g / ⅜ cup plain flour
- 50g / ⅜ cup rice flour
- 1 tbsp natural yoghurt
- 3 cups water + 1-2 cups as needed
- 1-2 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp gingelly oil or any neutral oil
- ¼ tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 2 green chillies, sliced thinly
- 1 inch ginger, thinly sliced and cut into strips
- 1 tbsp grated fresh coconut
- ¼ cup coriander leaves and stems, chopped
- 1 cup purple onions, diced
- ½ cup cooking oil or melted ghee (for drizzling)
1. In a medium mixing bowl, add ½ cup rava, plain flour, rice flour, yoghurt , salt, sugar and 2 cups water. Using a whisk, mix the batter until evenly mixed.
2. In a small pan, add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. When the oil is warm, add mustard seeds and once they begin to pop, reduce the flame and add cumin, crushed peppercorns, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves in that order. Let the mixture sizzle and become aromatic for about 10 seconds. Keep the mixture aside for it to cool. Once cooled, add the tempered spices to the thosai batter.
3. Mix the rava thosai batter to evenly mix in the tempered spices. Add chopped coriander into the batter and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes.
4. Heat a flat cast iron pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, using a halved onion dipped in cooking oil, smear some oil all over the pan to grease it lightly. Then sprinkle a small handful of diced onions and let the onion cook for 20 seconds until it starts to brown.
5. While the onion is browning, add another 1 cup more water, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of semolina to the thosai batter. The batter should be very watery. Using a cup or ladle, mix the rava thosai batter until it's evenly mixed again as the semolina would have settled to the bottom.
6. When the pan is very hot, hold your cup or ladle about 10cm from the pan and slowly drizzle the thin batter from the outer edges of your pan into the middle. The height from where the batter is poured and the high heat of the pan helps create the lacey effect immediately. If your thosai is thick without any lacey effect, dilute the batter more and increase the heat of the pan and start again.
7. Once the thosai starts the brown, reduce the heat of the pan to medium-low and drizzle some ghee or cooking oil at the edges of the rava thosai and where there are holes.
8. Cook the rava thosai for about 5-8 minutes or until it is browned evenly and the batter is fully cooked and not sticky. No need to flip over.
9. Using a thin-edged spatula, carefully nudge the thosai from the edges and then towards the middle. Lift the thosai and serve immediately with chutney.
10. As the batter sits while you make the remaining rava thosai, it will thicken considerably. Add ½ cup more water together with 1 tablespoon more semolina to thin out the batter.
Vasun's thosai masterclass
Want to learn more? Vasun teaches the art of making thosai from scratch at her home. She's inspired by the nostalgia of her grandma's kitchen and the exacting science of thosai fermentation.
Thosai masterclass partipants will learn the basic science of thosai, how to soak and grind the batter from scratch, master the art of swirling and cooking thosais.
At the end of the 4-hour $180 class, they also get to enjoy a tiffin meal with two chutneys and gunpowder podi, bring home all the food and successfully ferment their first batch of thosai.
For now, the thosai masterclass is for a maximum of two partipants, and held every Wednesday and Sunday.